Miriam Kalman Friedman

Jan 4, 2024

Claire Myers Owens and the Banned Book

A Discussion with Miriam Kalman Friedman

New Books Network 2024

Why did the New York Public Library ban a novel about women’s independence? What was the Human Potential Movement? And who was Claire Myers Owens?

Today’s book is: Rivers of Light: The Life of Claire Myers Owens (Syracuse University Press,, 2019) by Miriam Kalman Friedman, which is a biography of Owens, who grew up in a conservative, middle-class family in Texas, but sought adventure and freedom. At twenty years old, she left home and quickly found a community of like-minded free spirits and intellectuals in New York’s Greenwich Village. There Owens wrote novels and short stories, including the controversial novel The Unpredictable Adventure: A Comedy of Woman’s Independence, which was banned by the New York Public Library for its “risqué” content. Drawn to ideals of self-actualization and creative freedom, Owens became a key figure in the Human Potential Movement along with founder Abraham Maslow and Aldous Huxley. In her later years, Owens devoted her life to the practice of Zen Buddhism, and published her final book, Zen and the Lady, at the age of eighty-three. Dr. Friedman’s rediscovery of Owens brings attention to her little known yet extraordinary life and passionate spirit. Drawing upon autobiographies, letters, journals, and novels, Dr. Friedman chronicles Owens’s robust intellect and her tumultuous private life.

Our guest is: Dr. Miriam Kalman Friedman, who is a writing coach, editor, and lecturer. She has published multiple books on feminism, women, and women's studies. She is the author of Rivers of Light: The Life of Claire Myers Owens.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who is the host and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in history, which she uses to explore what stories we tell and what happens to those we never tell.

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Christina Gessler

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